back to article Windows box won't boot? SystemRescue 9 may help

The latest version of an old friend of the jobbing support bod has delivered a new kernel to help with fixing Microsoft's finest. It used to be called the System Rescue CD, but who uses CDs any more? Enter SystemRescue, an ISO image that you can burn, or just drop onto your Ventoy USB key, and which may help you to fix a …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    I did wonder if an open source version of chkdsk would come along for NTFS disks that are a bit screwed, but these days i try to avoid Windows boxes as far as I can.

    Encountered a Windows 11 'upgrade' on someone's laptop at the weekend, oh $DEITY what a waste of resources, had 4GB RAM and it s....u....c...k...e...d badly..

    1. NATTtrash

      ... these days i try to avoid Windows boxes as far as I can.

      I personally feel the same. But that's just silly me...

      And of course an actual Windows ISO – you can grab Windows 10 direct from Microsoft's download page without a licence key or any ID, and it's actually easier to do from Linux or a Mac. ®

      And when following that link given by El Reg and clicking on the "please ignore me and for God's sake DO... NOT... CLICK... ME!" "Privacy" link there...

      How we use personal data

      Microsoft uses the data we collect to provide you with rich, interactive experiences. In particular, we use data to:

      [] Provide our products, which includes updating, securing, and troubleshooting, as well as providing support. It also includes sharing data, when it is required to provide the service or carry out the transactions you request.

      [] Improve and develop our products.

      [] Personalise our products and make recommendations.

      [] Advertise and market to you, which includes sending promotional communications, targeting advertising, and presenting you with relevant offers.

      We also use the data to operate our business, which includes analysing our performance, meeting our legal obligations, developing our workforce, and doing research.

      And you thought it was all about you...

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Where is the line about owning your soul?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CDs are Still Relevant

    CDs can be more reliable than USB, but of course need to be updated regularly, which can be more awkward than USB keys.

    It is nice to see Hirens CD is still around and updated. It is about 10 years ago since I last used it.

    1. TReko

      Hiren 2022

      There's a great bootable alternative to Hiren called "Sergei Strelec's WinPE "

      Most useful.

  3. Gerhard den Hollander

    Das Knoppix

    I still have a knoppix DVD around, and if I dig hard enough I should be able to find that USB stick that was knoppix bootable

    I also for years have used my trusty Knoppix CD as a tea coaster (no beer during work hours) once I no longer needed it because I had the DVD/USB combo.

    I should probably make myself a new one just because I can

  4. Pseu Donyme

    GParted Live CD/USB/PXE/HD ...

    ... can also come handy with borked PCs, making backup images and such:

    1. Liam Proven Bronze badge

      Re: GParted Live CD/USB/PXE/HD ...

      [Article author here]

      Just FWIW: Gparted is one of the tools in SystemRescue.

  5. badflorist

    " you to fix a borked Windows box."

    From what I've seen, the #1 use of these rescue distros for Windows users is to remove GRUB so they can once again rebork boot directly to Windows. They can't even be bother to set the default or timeout in GRUB, just right back to Windows present-but-invisible boot loader.

    I have no idea what the #1 case is for LInux users, maybe fstab, X...? it could be so many different things considering you're free to do whatever you want (Windows have 2 choices: Windows or... Windows).

  6. ShadowSystems

    An easier fix...

    Burn a Linux ISO to USB. Reboot the bjorked machine. Nuke&Pave the drive to be the Linux distro in the ISO. Reboot to Linux. Give MS TheFinger.

    *Hands over a giant tankard of beer*

    Drink up! It'll make this fantasy easier to swallow.




    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: An easier fix...

      Oh, nuke it and replace with Linux!


      What an original suggestion!

      I'm surprised no-one on here has ever suggested this before.

      Definitely food for thought.

      1. ShadowSystems

        Re: An easier fix...

        Evidently I didn't make the "/s" into 99 point, bright neon red, flashing, blinking, scrolling marquis text to make sure folks couldn't miss it. How silly of me.


        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: *FacePalmSigh*

          Maybe learn to be better at sarcasm?

          I didn't need a /s tag on my post.

  7. that one in the corner

    Mounting the EFI partition

    Maybe I'm missing something (in which case some kind soul will correct me, I'm sure) but if you want to get at the EFI partition from Windows 10, at least, don't you just use mountvol?

    mountvol Z: /S

    (run as Administrator) seems to do the job. Not sure about fixing it, but you can certainly make a mess of things by just by blindly fiddling with the contents of the newly mounted Z drive...

    1. Liam Proven Bronze badge

      Re: Mounting the EFI partition

      [Article author here]

      I tend to use the Disk Management plug-in myself, but you do you.

      The point is, apart from CHKDSK, as I said, it won't fix it. You can't copy it or resize it or rebuild it from scratch.

      1. that one in the corner

        Re: Mounting the EFI partition

        > It won't fix it

        Well, you can access the files there, so if you have a fix for one of them you can apply it.

        > You can't copy it

        File-by-file? It is just a mounted drive, file copy (from an admin command line) works, except for a couple that appear to be "busy" (/EFI/Microsoft/Boot/BCD and BCD.LOG). gzip'ing works.

        Entire partition? dd has just created an image of the EFI partition for me and ImDisk happily mounted that.

        > or rebuild it from scratch

        I'm not going to verify this by doing it today, but when I was setting this PC up late last year dd'ing the image back to the partition seemed to work; hopefully it really did and there won't be any surprises coming my way.

        > or resize it

        is anyone really surprised about that? If you are doing anything that requires resizing the EFI then you are surely way beyond just settng up a simple Windows box (there is still space left after Windows and a couple of other OSes) and would expect to use something external to Windows to manipulate partitions (after all, Disk Management is bleep all help with the UFS or ext4 partitions a well).

        Anyway, fiddling with the EFI partition from within the OS that you just booted from said partition always feels rather precarious (especially with Windows keeping those "BCD" files in use all the time!) so thanks for pointing us towards SystemResue 9, another arrow in the old quiver.

  8. Graham Cobb Silver badge

    I have mostly switched to using nowadays. I make sure I set it up as a Grub option on all my systems, and also have a suitable file in the UEFI partition and, where the BIOS allows, I set it as an option in the boot menu on the PC.

    Of course, this does create security issues as, if you use it, you are effectively booting a random internet file. It is possible, and advisable, to create your own infrastructure using the experience and infrastructure. See "Self-hosting" on their website.

  9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Ventoy is pretty sweet

    Just wanted to stress how cool Ventoy is. You install it to a USB stick (supports regular partition tables, EFI, and secure boot; and apparently also booting on like ARMS and MIPS and a few other setups via EFI). It makes a ~100MB or so EFI and the rest a data partition. You put bootable stuff (.iso or .wim) and when you boot the stick, it lists all the bootable items on there, arrow down and hit enter, bam it boots.

    Note, if you really want the ultimate rescue stick, Medicat has like 20GB of .ISO and .Wim files with like bootable Linux rescue systems, bootable virus scanners, a bootable stripped windows (which I used to do a BIOS update since apparently this Inspiron 3505 has 0 support for flashing from Linux.. including the BIOS's "flash from file" refusing to flash from either the .exe or .rcv BIOS update downloads... blah..), bootable disk utilities, like a total swiss army knife of utilities and rescue systems.

  10. man_iii

    Sysinternals on WinPE

    Sysinternals is one of those better than microsoft tools that MS purchased. WinPE is probably an alternative SysRescue.

    And those who suggest Ventoy should be careful if the ISO supports dynamic or Label UUID disks. I have run into some ISOs that dont like the "Virtual" ISO boot media but will boot fine when taking over the entire USB.

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